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PGA Tour preview: The Greenbrier Classic

Preview – PGA Tour – The Greenbrier Classic – July 4-7 – The Old White TPC – White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia –

The PGA Tour hosts The Greenbrier Classic at White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia this week with Friday’s second round falling on the United States’ Independence Day.

Designed by Seth Raynor and renovated by Jack Nicklaus, The Old White TPC course (par-70, 7,274 yards) welcomes several high-profile players including …

The top two players in the FedEx Cup Standings — Jimmy Walker and Bubba Watson — are here this week. Bubba, the Masters champion, is the top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Former major champions Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley are scheduled to compete along with Steve Stricker.

Golf legends Tom Watson and Nick Faldo are in the field.

After Stuart Appleby won here in 2010 shooting 59 in the final round for a 22-under total a few seasons ago, all 18 greens were reseeded with Bent grass. The overall winning score slipped from 16-under in 2011 (Scott Stallings) to 9-under last year when Ted Potter Jr. capture the title. Last year’s winning tally was 13-under.

Upstarts — Brendon Todd and Ben Martin — ride hot streaks into The Old White TPC Course. Todd, a winner at the Byron Nelson, has a pair of Top 5s  including a T-8 at the U.S. Open coming into West Virginia. For Martin, he was T-3 at Congressional last week and has three third-place finishes of late.

2013 Recap:

  • Jones Blixt (13-under) posted rounds of 66-67-67-67 to collect the victory by two shots over a quartet of players including Steven Bowditch, Matt Jones, Jimmy Walker and Johnson Wagner. Bill Haas, Pat Perez and Brian Stuard logged Top 10s.

FANTASY: Take Walker, based on his experience here which includes a runner-up last year and T-4 efforts in 2010 and 2011. Keep the riding the streaks and momentum of Martin and Todd. We like Brendan Steele again this week. He has Top 5s in each of his last two starts. He was leading at the Travelers after round before struggling to close out the victory.

BETTORS: At 12-to-1, Walker is the betting favorite at www.ladbrokes.com. He leads the FedEx Cup Standings and has three W’s this season. Take Simpson (20-1), who nearly won in 2012 until a poor final round and was the 36-hole leader in 2011. He finished two back of Ben Crane at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in early June. Haas (25-1) could factor this week. He was two shots off the lead last week on a difficult course. He usually wins once a season and now could be the time. He was also T-8 at Memorial recently. For a flier, take last week’s playoff loser Shawn Stefani as a 66-1 long shot.

The Golf Channel has coverage Thursday and Friday with CBS Sports handling television Saturday and Sunday.

Other Golf News:

  • The best players in women’s golf head to Southport, England for the RICOH Women’s British Open July 10-13. American Stacy Lewis comes into the event as the defending champion. She also won last week on the LPGA Tour following a runner-up finish at the U.S. Women’s Open.
  • The Royal & Ancient announced Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland will host the Open Championship in the near future. The projected earliest date would be 2019.
  • The European Tour hosts the Alstom Open de France this week with Graeme McDowell returning as defending champion. He is a 13-1 pick at Ladbrokes, while U.S. Open and Players champion Martin Kaymer is the outright favorite at 8-1 odds.